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OSHA reiterates position on incentive programs

In an Oct. 6 speech at the United Steelworkers' Health, Safety and Environment Conference in Pittsburg, OSHA Administrator, David Michaels, called programs rewarding employees for not reporting injuries or disciplining them for reporting injuries, as well as those that provide managers with bonuses for lowering injury rates, "unacceptable." Michaels supports incentive programs that reinforce positive behavior, such as rewarding employees for reporting hazards and near misses.

Safety incentive programs are a focus of OSHA investigations and inspectors conduct employee interviews focused on whether employees have been trained to report injuries or discouraged to report. Common programs such as a safety bingo game or bonus incentives for "no injuries reported" that encourage employees to underreport are red flags for OSHA inspectors.

OSHA increases enforcement against serious safety and health violators

From October 2009 to September 2010, OSHA issued citations in 164 significant cases where penalties reached $100,000 or more. OSHA found conditions warranting use of its egregious citation policy in 20 of these inspections. In a so-called egregious case, an employer is cited on a per-instance basis under the same standard rather than grouping similar violations for penalty purposes. The result is a considerably higher penalty intended to serve as a deterrent. This number of significant and egregious cases is more than OSHA issued during any similar period in the last decade. The increase in significant and egregious cases demonstrates OSHA's commitment to aggressively enforcing its standards.

OSHA unveils FY 2010 most frequently cited violations

The top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations for fiscal year 2010 were announced at the National Safety Council 2010 Congress & Expo in October. As expected, this year's list did not deviate significantly from the top 10 violations in years past.

The preliminary list of total violations for the most violated standards is:

  Standard # of Violations
1 Scaffolding – General Requirements (1926.451) 8,371
2 Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) 7,559
3 Hazard Communication (1910.1200) 6,633
4 Respiratory Protection (1910.134) 3,932
5 Ladders (1926.1053) 3,820
6 Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) 3,531
7 Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) 3,381
8 Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) 3,224
9 Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) 2,770
10 Machine Guarding – General Requirements (1910.212) 2,556

The finalized list will be available in December.